Judith Heumann’s Fight for Disability Rights (feat. Ali Stroker) – Drunk History

– Cheers to you. – And you.
– To everybody. – To everybody and you.
– And myself. Thank you.
– Mm-hmm. And me.
– And that includes you. – Great, thank you.
– Mm-hmm. – Hello. I’m Suzi Barrett,
and today we’re talking about the Section 504 sit-in. – I’ll sit in for this. – I’ll sit in with you. – [chuckles]
– Okay. Act one, scene one. A backdrop appears slowly in
front of the audience’s eyes. What’s on this backdrop? The 50s and the 60s. We got people with disabilities being treated
not as normal citizens. If you’re in a wheelchair,
you can’t just, like, walk into a bank
and apply for a job. There’s no access, and they’re
like, uh, [bleep] you. You use a wheelchair. Or, like, you can’t see and therefore [bleep] off,
dude. A disability is
dismiss-ability, basically. – Wow. – Put that in your [bleep] pipe. – I will.
And I’ll smoke that. – Will you?
– I will. I like this pipe.
– Okay. So here comes 1973. Richard Nixon signs this thing
called the Rehabilitation Act, and section 504
of the Rehabilitation Act is the section that says
you can’t, uh– a federal institution can’t,
like, uh, you know, discriminate against people
with a disability. So section 504
needs to be signed. So–so–so Joseph Califano, the head of the Department
of Health, Education, and Welfare–HEW–
was like, well, this sounds like a lot of work. So, like, what do we have
to do to our buildings? What’s braille? I mean, if this is that,
and that is what, and what this is
what we’re talking about, and– [snoring] – [laughs] – So it sits there
for four [bleep] years, and he doesn’t sign it. So the American Coalition
of Citizens with Disabilities, headed by Dr. Frank Bowe, are like,
what the [bleep] [bleep]? Make us equal.
We have rights. We are citizens.
[spits] Sign this by April 5th or else. And “else” is not
a “Frozen” character. “Else” is a [bleep]
disability surprise. [burps] I feel way drunker
than I should be. – You’re all good.
You’re all good. – [laughing] [groans]
Okay. So the deadline, April 5th,
comes and it goes. And at the federal building
in San Francisco, this woman, Judy Heumann,
rolls up, and doorman’s like, oh–
[stammering] I’m sorry, ma’am. Do you need some help? Would you like some punch
or maybe a cookie? And she’s like, nope. Uh… me and my 150 friends would actually like
to roll over your ass… [funky rock music] ‘Cause we’re about
to make a change. ♪ ♪ And this started
the first-ever protest for the disability movement. All over the nation
at all these federal buildings, protests erupt. People with disabilities
are like, [bleep] you! We’re gonna camp out
in your hallways. We’re gonna sit
on your mother[bleep] desk. But none of these protests
across the country lasted more than 28 hours
except for San Francisco, where the days start dragging
on, and people have needs. Like, oh, my God. I don’t have my ventilator. I can’t [bleep] breathe. I don’t even know
why I’m speaking right now. I’m wasting oxygen. And, like, the news
is covering this. And people start really feeling
for what’s happening here. And the floodgates open, and you got people bringing in
medicine, coming in with food. The Black Panthers show up. Everyone’s sitting in, not just
people with disabilities. It’s allies and people
with disabilities. I’s veterans coming home
from Vietnam being like, man,
we got you. Jefferson Airplane
shows up, like, we’re Jefferson Airplane. Get it–you know,
get your shit on. We love you! If Woodstock was in
an office building and filled with wheelchairs
and medical supplies, this is Woodstock. And all these people
are finding a community that they hadn’t had in person
until now. And finally, they get
the attention of Washington. So they’re like, okay, okay,
let’s, um, let’s make a little hearing, and we’ll hear your
little disability complaints. When people start noticing
that they’re being dicks, then they start trying
to fix their dicks. [laughs] That’s my favorite
Dr. Seuss quote. [laughter] I’m so dumb. – Hey.
– Oh, hey, Suzi. [laughs]
– Oh, hey. This is a real [bleep]– – Is that too much?
– No. – [laughs]
– Okay. So Judy Heumann gets 20
of her friends from her activist group
in San Francisco, and they haul ass
to Washington. Boom. We’re in Washington, D.C. And she’s like,
if you are going to claim to be a country of the land
of the free, then you have to include us
in it. Otherwise, yikes, do we have a weird revolution
that’s about to happen. So here’s
Senator Alan Cranston. You know,
he’s nodding his head. “Oh, yeah.
Oh, my gosh, yeah. Oh, I’m so feeling it.” Judy Heumann’s not having
any of it. She’s like, I’d appreciate
if you wouldn’t act like you understand
what I’m saying because you don’t understand. We’re going through this shit.
You ain’t. Party’s over.
Peace out. Sign the shit. Crowd goes wild. Everyone’s cheering
for Judy. Love it. Then Frank Bow steps up,
and he’s like, we’re not even
second-class citizens. We’re third-class citizens. And here come the tears. How do you not cry after that? You know, why would you want
to be on the side of history that categorizes people rather than the side of history
that’s, like, liberating and, like, let’s be the piñata. – Yeah, break it
and let everyone come out. – Yeah! Let’s make–let’s make candy. – Okay. – Califano’s like, ooh. I, uh, funny thing. Uh… fine! I’ll sign it. Jubilation. 504 was signed,
and this opened the floodgates for the American Disabilities
Act for ramps, for braille, for everything
that we know today that is for disability access. [triumphant music] So Judy Heumann’s people have
been in the federal building in San Francisco for 26 days. And these protestors
are coming out so happy, fists raised in victory. And they’re loving it
because they’re having a voice in their place in history. ♪ ♪ – Cheers.
– Cheers. ♪ ♪ – To everybody. – To literally everybody.

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